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Jan Baran Weighs in on Super PAC Involvement in Congressional Elections

Politico; Roll Call
March 12, 2012

Wiley Rein Election Law & Government Ethics Practice co-chair Jan Baran was quoted in an article on Super PACs that may become active in congressional elections. Politico reported the formula for rich donors to gain Congressional influence is simple: "Raise $10 million from the jet set or grass-roots followers, spend it on 40 to 50 House districts or 15 Senate races and then call in favors when it's time to count votes for speaker, floor leader or whip."

"Throughout the country, there are a lot of mini-Sheldon Adelsons who have personal wealth and who may be attracted to a particular candidate, and I think that one way to help that candidate is to support a super PAC," said Mr. Baran, in reference to the Las Vegas casino magnate who has spent millions of dollars fueling Newt Gingrich's Super PAC.

In another article, Mr. Baran was interviewed by Roll Call for a story asking whether Super PACs are illegally working with the candidates they support. Roll Call reported that some watchdog groups are saying collusion is flagrant. Mr. Baran pointed out that those involved would have to explicitly discuss ads and strategy with their backers to meet the Federal Election Commission's definition of coordination.

"The definition of independence doesn't require complete political ignorance or chastity," said Mr. Baran. "You cannot restrict the rights of people to engage in political expression by making them completely disassociated from politics, candidates or the political process."